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June 28, 2007

the man who is happy is fulfilling the purpose of existence

I cannot bend the happenings of the world to my will: I am completely powerless.
I can only make myself independent of the world-and so in a certain sense master it-by renouncing any influence on happenings.
The world is independent of my will.

Even if everything that we want were to happen, this would still only be, so to speak, a grace of fate, for what would guarantee it is not any logical connection between will and world, and we could not in turn will the supposed physical connection.

And in this sense Dostoevsky is right when he says that the man who is happy is fulfilling the purpose of existence.

Or again we could say that the man is fulfilling the purpose of existence who no longer needs to have any purpose except to live. That is to say, who is content.

The solution of the problem of life is to be seen in the disappearance of this problem.
But is it possible for one so to live that life stops being problematic? That one is living in eternity and not in time?
Isn’t this the reason why men to whom the meaning of life had become clear after long doubting could not say what this meaning consisted in?


Posted by amin at 9:50 PM

June 25, 2007

to pray is to think about the meaning of life

What do I know about God and the purpose of life?
I know that this world exists.
That I am placed in it like my eye in its visual field.
That something about it is problematic, which we call its meaning.
That this meaning does not lie in it but outside it.
That life is the world.
That my will penetrates the world.
That my will is good or evil.
Therefore that good and evil are somehow connected with the meaning of the world.
The meaning of life, i.e the meaning of the world, we can call God.
And connect with this the comparison of God to a father.
To pray is to think about the meaning of life.


Posted by amin at 1:59 AM

June 24, 2007

the heartbeat

Have you ever lain with somebody when your hearts were beating in the same rhythm? That's true love. A man and a woman who lie down with their hearts beating together are truly lucky. Then you've truly been in love. Yeah, that's true love. You might see that person once a month, once a year, maybe once a lifetime, but you have the guarantee your lives are going to be in rhythm. That's all you need.

Bob Dylan

Posted by amin at 2:27 AM

June 23, 2007

art is supposed to take you out of your chair

When I go to see a film, I expect to be moved. I don't want to go see a movie just to kill time, or to have it just show me something I'm not aware of. I want to be moved, because that's what art is supposed to do, according to all the great theologians. Art is supposed to take you out of your chair. It's supposed to move you from one space to another.

Bob Dylan

Posted by amin at 11:54 PM

June 22, 2007

rodin's portraits

Full of the living burden of his great knowledge, he looked into the faces of those about him like one who knows the future. This gives to his portraits their extraordinary clear definiteness, but also that prophetic greatness which, in the statues of Victor Hugo and of Balzac, rises to an indescribable perfection. To create a likeness meant for him to seek eternity in some given face, that part of eternity by which the face participated in the great life of eternal things. He made none which he did not lift a little from its place into the future; as we hold an object against the sky in order to see its form with greater clarity and simplicity. This is not what we call beautifying a thing, nor is it right to speak of giving it characteristic expression. It is more than that; it is separating of the permanent from the ephemeral, the passing of a judgment, the executing of justice.

Rilke - Auguste Rodin

Posted by amin at 11:01 PM

June 21, 2007

you can’t escape being yourself

No matter how you turn it, you can’t escape being yourself, you can’t escape being yourself and being an autobiographer and being a contemporary of yourself. It’s a series of revelations of what you are…What you do is like one of those Arab fairy tales…Where you inevitably-or a Greek tragedy-“What the gods have decided for you to do.” You can’t escape it. You can’t escape it.

Saul Steinberg
Richard Avedon - Sixties

Posted by amin at 10:19 PM

June 20, 2007

a private battle with thought

Philosophers, literary people, you know…they say thins…inside their heads. They will come to the point that the thing is really the thing. Like they say, “the chair”-there is a chair over there. They really have just a social condition that they know what a chair is…but it has nothing to do with sight. They really cannot see it.

I think it’s a terrible battle-a little private battle I have with thought. That thinking has a lot to do with taking certain things for granted. And it’s difficult to really see something…like if you are looking at me, after a little while it becomes kind of a…you are experiencing something in a flash but…you almost have to focus on the little highlight on my nose…you almost have to look through me to see me, you know? There is no way of really seeing me.

William De Kooning
Richard Avedon - Sixties

Posted by amin at 3:14 AM

June 19, 2007

leukemia, with infections...

I once was going abroad and, uh…I said to this rather very nice and, uh, you know, fine doctor, I said to him, “I am going abroad and in case I take ill abroad and have to see other doctors, I wish that you would, uh…write down what’s wrong with me on a slip of paper so I can show it to them.” …And, so he wrote down, “Leukemia, with infections.”…And, uh, when I came home…I said, uh, “What are we going to do about this leukemia? Is there anything we can do? Shouldn’t I be taking blood transfusions or something? To keep my energy up for my work?” And he said, “What makes you think I ever wrote that down”…I said, “Well, I remember it.”

I don’t smoke…anymore. I just forgot to…My, uh, closest friend died of lung cancer due to smoking, uh…four packs a day…Well, it took courage…for me…going on…And I still feel…the need of more courage than I have.

Tennessee Williams
Richard Avedon - Sixties

Posted by amin at 9:54 PM

June 16, 2007

the picture of life

To understand the picture one must divine the painter. Nowadays, however, the whole guild of sciences is occupied in understanding the canvas and the pain but not the picture; one can say, indeed, that only he who has a clear view of the picture of life and existence as a whole can employ the individual sciences without harm to himself, for without such a regulatory total picture they are threads that nowhere come to an end and only render our life more confused and labyrinthine.

Nietzsche - Untimely Meditations

Posted by amin at 3:23 PM

June 15, 2007

rilke on rodin iv

Thus it came about that none of the drama of Life remained unexplored by this earnest, concentrated worker, who had never sought subjects nor desired anything which lay beyond the range of his own ever-maturing technique: all the depths of nights of Love were revealed to him, all the dark, passionate and sorrowful spaciousness in which, as in a world still heroic, clothing was unknown, in which faces were blotted out and the human body came into its own. With senses at white heat, as a seeker after Life, he entered the great confusion of this struggle, and what he beheld was: Life.

Here was life, a thousand-fold in every moment, in longing and sorrow, in madness and fear, in loss and gain. Here was desire immeasurable, thirst so great that all the waters of the world dried in it like a single drop, here was neither deception nor denial, and here the gestures of giving and receiving were real, were great. Here were vices and blasphemies, damnation and bliss, and suddenly one understood that a world which concealed and hid all this, which treated it as if it did not exist, must indeed be poor. It did exist.

And, less distracted by the multiplicity of things, he felt himself better able to recognize in all this the eternal, that which made suffering a good, travail a bringing forth of life, and pain beautiful.

Rilke - Auguste Rodin

Posted by amin at 11:23 AM

June 14, 2007

i shall see her today!

‘I shall see her today!’ I exclaim in the mornings when I raise and look up the beautiful sun with a glad heart; ‘I shall see her today!’ And then I have no other wishes all day long. Everything, everything is included in that one hope.

In vain I stretch my arms to her when morning comes and I gradually waken from deep dreams, in vain I look for her in my bed at night when some happy, innocent reverie has tricked me into believing I was sitting with her in a meadow, holding her hand and covering it with a thousand kisses. Ah, still half asleep I reach for her, cheered to think she is there-and a flood of tears pours from my sorely beset heart, and I weep inconsolably over my somber future.

Goethe - The Sorrows of Young Werther

Posted by amin at 12:47 AM

June 13, 2007

the two principal goals of the portrait photographer

The report of a likeness and the revelation of character are the two principal goals of the portrait photographer. Both purposes must be achieved in the successful portrait since full recognition of a person is not in the exterior identity alone, but is elaborated and made convincing by some visible element of individuality. The photographer is therefore alert to attitude, gesture, and expression, and snaps the shutter at the critical moment when these signs all blend together to describe the inner personality. One moment is all you have. Like a hunter in search of a target, you look for the one sign that is more characteristic than all the others. The job is to sum up what a man is according to your understanding of him. The painter has the advantage here since he can work toward this objective through several leisurely sessions; the photographer has only one, and that one as brief as a split second.

Fred Stein

Posted by amin at 3:52 AM

June 12, 2007

how can he be happy that never felt grief

Among advantages which adversity has, this is not the least, that, a man’s misfortunate days once past, he lives the rest of his life with greater delight. Who can relish health, that has never been sick? Who knows the sweetness of his country, so well as he has been long abroad? Or who can take pleasure in riches but he that has been poor? As salt favors meat, so does past misery render our lives more pleasant.

Perhaps you will say I would have pleasure without pain: this is contrary to nature, for joy is continually attended by sorrow, glory with envy, wisdom is not gotten without labor, wealth is not obtained without care, children are kept with trouble, banqueting is attended by sickness, ease with poverty, power with envy, quiet with weariness. Everyman has something to complain of. Some are afflicted with poverty, others want children, this man is sick, that man wants a wife, and this man would be rid of his. But that which is most strange is, that to be happy and liable to no misfortune, is also a calamity.

How can he be happy that never felt grief. This is certain, that without adversity a man cannot live comfortably, nor take delight in mirth without some sorrow. And is it not a comfort in our calamity to have not only one man for a companion, but all mankind.

Truly the adversity of others, never made my misfortunes seem the less: but the unavoidableness of troubles, to which all naturally are subject, has much mitigated my private grieves. For who but a mad man will lament that which cannot be helped. A wise man considering the course of sublunary things, will expect any kind of mishap, and is prepared against the worst.

Cardan - Three Books of Consolation

Posted by amin at 2:23 AM

June 11, 2007


Is it still possible to write more words about him? I think of those already written, mine included, and the answer is ‘No’. If I look at his paintings, the answer is again-for a different reason- ‘No’; the canvases command silence. I almost said plead for, and that would have been false, for there is nothing pathetic about a single image he made-not even the old man with his head in his hands at the gates of eternity. All his life he hated blackmail and pathos.

John Berger

Posted by amin at 1:42 AM

June 10, 2007

open all the doors! open all the windows!

Open all the doors!
Open all the windows!
Remove the locks from this enclosing life!
Remove this enclosing life from this enclosing life!
Let closing be openness, with no locks as reminders,
Let “stopping” be the ignorant term for continuing,
Let the end be an always abstract thing,
Fluidly connected to every end ever reached.

I want to breathe!
Strip my body of all its weight!
Replace my soul with abstract wings attached to nothing!
No, not wings, just the enormous Wing of Flight itself!
No, not even Flight, just the speed that remains when ceasing
becomes flying.
And there is no body to weigh down the soul of Going!

I want to be the heat of living things, the fever of saps, the rhythm of waves and the…
Gap in being that allows Being to be…!

No boundaries anywhere!
No divisions in anything!
Just Me.

Fernando Pessoa

Posted by amin at 1:34 AM

June 9, 2007

rilke on rodin III

He read much. In the streets of Brussels he was always seen with a book in his hand, a book which was perchance but a cover for his preoccupation with himself and with the tremendous task before him. As in the case of all men of action, the feeling that he had before him a piece of work of indefinite duration acted as an incentive, as something that heightened and concentrated his powers. And when beset by doubts and uncertainties, by the great impatience of conscious immaturity, by the fear of an early death or by the threatened lack of daily necessities, he met these things with a quiet, resolute resistance, a defiance, a strength, a confidence, all the unfurled flags of a great victory.

When others began to doubt him, he had no longer any doubt of himself. That all lay behind him. His destiny no longer depended upon the approval and the judgment of the multitude, it had already been decided when others imagined they could still destroy it by ridicule and hostility. During this period of development he was undisturbed by any voice from without. There reached him neither praise to mislead him nor blame to confuse him. Like Parzival, his work was cradled in purity, alone with itself and with great eternal Nature.

For if, at this period, he ever received encouragement and confirmation of his aim and of his quest, it came from the works of the ancients and from out the darkness of the cathedrals. Men did not speak to him. Stones spoke.

Strength from the depths of the earth seemed to rise into the veins of this man.

Rodin reverted again and again in his figures to this turning-inward-upon-oneself, this tense listening to inner depths.

Rilke - Auguste Rodin

Posted by amin at 4:03 PM

June 6, 2007

rilke on rodin II

There is in Rodin a deep patience which makes him almost anonymous, a quiet, wise forbearance, something of the great patience and kindness of Nature herself, who, beginning with some negligible quantity, traverses silently and seriously the long pathway to abundance.

Commissions which he carried out conscientiously, without any expression of his own growing personality. His own development went on simultaneously, uneasily in the cramped intervals of the day and in evening hours, spaciously in the solitary stillness of the night; and this division of his energies he had to suffer for many years. But he had the strength of those for whom some great work is waiting, the silent endurance of those whom the world needs.

Rilke - Auguste Rodin

Posted by amin at 4:34 PM

June 5, 2007

rilke on rodin I

Rodin was solitary before he became famous. And Fame, when it came, made him if anything still more solitary. For Fame, after all, is but the sum of all the misunderstandings which gather about a new name.

He stood alone, and had he been only a dreamer he might have dreamt a dream deep and beautiful, which none would have understood, one of those long, long dreams in the dreaming of which life passes like a day. But this young man, employed in the factory at Sevres, was a dreamer whose dream went to his hands and he began forthwith to achieve its realization. He felt where he must begin; a calmness in him showed him the true way.

Rilke - Auguste Rodin

Posted by amin at 4:29 PM

June 4, 2007

children and adults

All our learned teachers and educators are agreed that children do not know why they want what they want; but no one is willing to believe that adults too, like children, wander about this earth in a daze and, like children, do not know where they come from or where they are going, act as rarely as they do according to genuine motives, and are as thoroughly governed as they are by biscuits and cake and the rod. And yet it seems palpably clear to me.

Goethe - The Sorrows of Young Werther

Posted by amin at 1:37 AM

June 3, 2007

the spirit of the eternal creator

From the most inaccessible of mountains, to the desert where no man has ever set foot, to the very ends of the unknown ocean, breaths the spirit of the eternal Creator, rejoicing in every speck of dust that is alive and knows Him-Ah, how often in former times did I long for the wings of a crane that passed overhead, to fly to the shores of the measureless sea, and there drink the full joy of Life from the foaming goblet of the Eternal, and taste, if only for a single moment, with the limited power that is in my breast, one drop of the blessed serenity of that Being who makes all things, in Himself and through Himself.

Goethe - The Sorrows of Young Werther

Posted by amin at 7:09 PM

June 2, 2007

heart alone is the source of happiness

The affairs of the world are no more than so much trickery, and a man who toils for money or honor or whatever else in deference to the wishes of others, rather than because his own desires or needs lead him to do so, will always be a fool.

Ah, one thing is sure: the heart alone is the source of our happiness.

Goethe - The Sorrows of Young Werther

Posted by amin at 3:04 AM

June 1, 2007

man is a shadow

In what a kind of uncertainty do we live, when a man rises from his bed in the morning, to be uncertain of his return to rest again: or when he lies down to sleep, whether ever he shall rise. Well do the Spaniards in their language call man a shadow, for in truth he is no more, his body being so frail and brittle, and exposed to so many dangers, that nothing is more to be admired, than that it should usually subsist so long.

As gold is purified in the furnace, so is the life of a good man purged by adversity...And as adversity and misfortunes have been to some men a means of their promotion, so has prosperity been to others an occasion of their misery.

Cardan - Three Books of Consolation

Posted by amin at 2:04 PM